skip to Main Content


Meet Your Councillor – Vol . 5

Meet Your Councillor…

Barbara Ellenbroek is one of Redruth’s Councillors for the Redruth (South) Ward and was born in Felixstowe, a port town in Suffolk, but after some travel, her family moved back to Cornwall to join their wider family.

Barbara’s Favourite Quote:

There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in. – Bishop Desmond Tutu
“I hope to try and find the root of issues, helping people from the get-go; being there for them from the start, not wait for until they’re struggling”

Despite having spent most of her life in Cornwall, Barbara’s early years didn’t start here. Her parents moved to South Africa when she turned three or four. It therefore wasn’t until the 1970s that Barbara’s family moved back to Cornwall, whereupon her parents bought the Newsagents at the bottom of Penryn Street, Redruth. Barbara attended Cornwall College for her teacher training and soon met her husband while working at Polurrian Bay Hotel in Mullion, and has lived in or around Redruth ever since.

“Cornwall has been my adoptive home, really, ever since the 1970s.

Meet Your Councillor Vol 5Barbara’s family roots are interesting too. Her husband’s father was Dutch, resulting in the unusual surname, though her mother-in-law was proudly Cornish through and through. Mr Ellenbroek Senior was over in the UK during World War 2 with the Dutch Navy, and when Holland was invaded, his ship was based in Falmouth.

Enys House, once a lovely estate outside Mylor and now virtually a ruin, was taken over as the headquarters and training school for the Royal Netherlands Naval College. It was well suited for this purpose due to the space it offered and its proximity to the Carrick Roads (“Dowr Carrek” in Cornish, meaning “rock anchorage”). The estuary of the River Fal on the south coast is a safe deep-water anchorage, perfect for practical work. The mansion accommodated the officers, while training rooms were constructed on the Mowhay (adjacent to the courtyard) for the cadets.You can find some fascinating footage of the Dutch Navy at Enys here.*

“If you go into the stable yard there are some pictures up of the Dutch Service men.

Having been in Redruth since the 1970s, Barbara has seen it develop and change over the years. She states how it was once the town to shop in. Truro was very limited, with its one attraction being British Home Stores. Redruth on the other hand, was bustling with activity and shops, West End Stores, John Knight, Rebels and more. Primary to its success was the mining driven economy. However, despite how Redruth has changed over the decades, there are aspects Barbara knows are still the same. Redruth has a beauty in it and a history – that won’t change. She notes that though Redruth might not get hundreds of visitors anymore, nowadays you can go into town and people are still stopping to talk to one another. It’s a testament to the real community Redruth has and that also won’t change. People know each other. People make time for each other.

“I’ve always felt Redruth is a lovely place, a lovely community.

Barbara joined the Town Council on the very same night her grandson was born, making it a very memorable night. She has been involved in local government in one way or another ever since. She is also a Cornwall Councillor and is in the Cabinet as the Portfolio Holder for Children and Families.

Not only has Barbara been a member of the Council, she was also the Redruth Town Mayor from 2008-2010, and was then involved with the Federation of Small Business – FSB, who provide members with a wide range of vital business services. She was also a board member of Camborne, Pool, and Redruth Urban Regeneration Company, which is no longer active, but did evolve into many of the projects we have now. She helped develop the Redruth’s Green Infrastructure Strategy 2020-2030 too, believing our local green spaces are important for everyone’s well-being, particularly for our children and families. Making sure that there is safe and ready access to them will strengthen our communities. You can read more about this here. When asked why she wanted to pursue these various roles, Barbara said she was fed up with things not happening and thought she could make a difference.

“But also, because I’m nosy and wanted to know what was going on.

But this was only the start of Barbara’s interest in the regeneration of Redruth. She’s since been involved with the High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) and was its chairman for a time. HSHAZ provided the key funding for Redruth in areas such as Redruth Buttermarket, a Soundwalk called ‘Street of Voices’/ ‘Stret an Levow’, and The Ladder brought to life in the historic Passmore Edwards Library.

But for Barbara, the most important thing for the community of Redruth is acknowledging that the children and young people need to have a say in things too, specifically about Redruth and its future. She thinks it’s vital that the vision we have for the town is also the vision they have for the town. It’s very easy for adults to decide that what Redruth wants and needs is for everything to be how it used to be. Barbara has seen that past too, but very much wants to focus on the future as sadly, we can’t go back to those days.

“The internet has happened. COVID has happened. It’s not going to happen.

But what Barbara believes Redruth does need is places like The Ladder, The Buttermarket, and other HSHAZ projects. She is most excited about both official openings because they are two wonderful projects, driven by local people, who really care about Redruth. What’s more, it will give the town a really good basis on which to move forward. Redruth has so much potential, as do its people. Together, everyone in the area can aspire to grow and surpassing their expectations.

A perfect quote that comes to mind for Barbara is “Hats off to the past-“ – an understanding we must acknowledge our past and where we have come from, “but coats off for the future.” –  when it comes to the future, we have to hang up our coats, roll up our sleeves and understand it won’t be easy. It will require hard work and it will then be our future to make. We cannot preserve our past in aspic, but what we can do is learn from our history and make it better for everyone.

She’d also like to see people upskill. People who want to progress in life should have that opportunity. Some people have had a tough start—like in Redruth, where there is a lot of deprivation. The Council, other organizations, and the community must help provide opportunities so everyone can fulfil their potential, whatever that potential might be. This doesn’t mean having a load of GCSEs or a degree. It can be work experience, a new skill, or a new career path; no door should be closed to anyone.

Barbara believes this is why Redruth is so fortunate to have places like Cornwall College on our doorstep, because there’s a huge amount of things going on at the college, not just for the young, but for the older generations too. Providing these opportunities has an important role in promoting lifelong learning and personal development whilst benefiting society as a whole.

“We don’t want to wear a ‘we’re deprived’ badge. It is a reason, not an excuse.

When asked what she would do if not a Councillor, Barbara laughed stating she doesn’t know. She admits she can find the role extremely frustrating because you can’t do what you want as quickly as you want. You’ve got to wait. So certainly, her father raised her with a strong ethic of serving the community, and it’s important to her that if you care about where you live, to contribute. In short, if she wasn’t a Councillor, she’d be somewhere else, annoying someone else, about what she wanted done because it wasn’t happening fast enough. It is safe to say she found her calling.

UK’s Time Team 1994- 2014




Winding down and outside of the council, Barbara will read escapism novels, especially ones based lightly on history and eras that she isn’t familiar with. Television shows such as Time Team and other archaeology-themed media have always fascinated her and Barbara finds that’s what she likes about books. Nothing heavily intellectual: she wants a good story, preferably something with a historical background, and sheds light on what she might not have previously known.

“You wouldn’t believe I had good grades in English Lit and English Language.

As for any other talents, Barbara swears she doesn’t have any, though she admits she enjoys sewing from time to time. However, what she often finds herself doing, is if she gets fixated on something, she’ll buy lots of books on the subject. Then after a time sat on a shelf, she’ll look at it three years later and wonder, ‘Why on earth did I buy all that?’ She can easily start a project, collect all she needs for it and then suddenly have many UFOs (Unfinished Projects). But she does find sewing quite relaxing, particularly quilting, and enjoys how she can take time out to enjoy the process.

It is comforting to know that there are people like Barbara Ellenbroek who are working tirelessly for a better Cornwall, and specifically a better Redruth. Her dedication and passion for the community clearly inspires others to join the cause and make a tangible difference.


Barbara Ellenbroek was kind enough to stop in for this ‘Meet Your Councillor’ interview on Tuesday 18th June 2024, and it has been lightly edited for length and clarity. Make sure to stay tuned for Vol. 6 and our next councillor. Or read our other Councillor Blogs here and follow us for more on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

*External link provided by Enys Gardens.

Stay up-to-date each month with what’s going on here. Or visit our Facebook page @DiscoverRedruth, or our Instagram @DiscoverRedruth, or sign up for our newsletter HERE

Share this

Recent Posts